3 Tips for Creating
“I am good enough, I am smart enough, and doggonit, people like me!” — Stuart Smalley, SNL
You may remember the SNL skit “Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley” which aired in the early 90s. The start and end of each skit features Stuart (Al Franken) talking to himself in a mirror, telling himself he is going to have a great show, he is going to help people, and affirming he is good, smart, and liked. This is an example of positive affirmations.
I don’t know what the original inspiration for the skit was, but Louise Hay’s work and her books were very popular in the 80s and 90s, so it is a fair guess that she figured into this parody of what was, and is, a very powerful practice of rewiring our inner dialog. But back in the 1990s, the idea that our thoughts could change our lives was considered kind of out there, woo-woo, or fringe. And to be fair, there was not much research to back it up yet.
But fast forward to today, and practically everywhere you look there is another article, post, video, or inspirational speaker sharing the benefits of positive thinking in changing our attitude to improve our lives. Books like Dan Pink’s “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future” and Dr. Joe Dispenza’s “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” are compelling arguments backed by science for taking control of our thoughts. It is pretty clear now that Stuart Smalley was onto something.
So, what are positive affirmations and how do they work?
Very simply, positive affirmations are statements that create positive feelings. Positive affirmations help us rewire our brains, replacing patterns of thinking and believing that have been unhealthy, limiting, or restricting with positive thoughts that encourage our growth and healing. When they work, the positive affirmations replace negative, low-vibration thoughts with positive, high-vibration ones, improving our mood and outlook. Using the SNL character Stuart Smalley as an example, he was an overweight child of an alcoholic who used the positive affirmation above to heal his self-worth and create health, happiness, and success.
Two reasons positive affirmations don’t always work
It is true. Positive affirmations do not always work. And in my experience there are a couple of reasons for this. So, if you have tried affirmations before and did not see any results, don’t give up on them just yet. Check out these two common causes of affirmation failure, and try again.
- The first reason for affirmation failure is when the affirmation just feels untrue or unattainable. For example, if you are very sick, saying “My body is healthy, strong, and healed” will likely trigger a gut, subconscious response that is just the opposite. So every time you repeat your affirmation, you are also repeating the negative of it...“I do not feel healthy, I feel terrible!” In this way you will make no headway with your affirmation. The key to this issue is to dial down your affirmation. Make it true for you, make it more subtle. Something like “I love feeling healthy, strong, and healed,” may be believable enough that your mind does not react against it.
- The second reason I have found for affirmation failure is not doing the inner work needed to understand and release our existing patterns, beliefs, and stories. The stories we tell ourselves have been with us a long time, so long that we believe they are ours, and that they are TRUE. They came to us through childhood experiences and are passed down through generations. The issues our grandmothers did not heal are passed to our mothers, and then to us. Then there are the things we learn as kid. Up to age seven we soak up everything we experience, see, feel, and sense. So, if a parent was self-absorbed and never listened to our thoughts and feelings, we can grow up feeling unworthy, not interesting enough to deserve compassionate, loving attention. We often recreate that experience in our adult lives, relationships, careers, because a deep wound puts off a strong vibration. The stronger the initial hurt, the stronger the vibration we emit, and the more of that experience we create in our lives.
So, if we start saying a positive affirmation such as “I am worthy” or “I approve of myself” without first looking within to understand the original hurt, our affirmation is not gonna do much. This is because the intensity of the vibration of the original hurt is way more potent than the intensity of the vibration of the affirmation.
Three tips for creating positive affirmations that work
I have three suggestions for making sure your affirmations are as effective as possible.
FIRST Revisit the aspect of you who might be hiding out, hurt, feeling badly about herself. You can often access this part of yourself through body awareness. If you have an area of chronic pain, start there. Take a journey to that part of your body and start to dialog with the young, wounded you. Ask her why she is there. Ask her how you can help her. Ask her what she has to tell you.
SECOND Journal or paint your limiting beliefs. The key element of this practice is to use the canvas to release the part of yourself, the thoughts, beliefs, feelings, etc., that have been holding you back, and then, after you feel purged of that (an emotional release should accompany this process) you write all the about the transformation you are seeking. Watch the seven-minute video below to see this process.
THIRD Incorporate a surrender statement into your affirmation practice. This helps you connect to and surrender the ways in which you have limited yourself as you call in a higher power to assist you in resetting your vibration. It is much like the second suggestion, just without the paint or paper.
Take the 30-day self-approval challenge
Ready to give positive affirmations a try? According to Louise Hay, the root of all our sorrows is lack of self-approval so in her book “You can Heal your Life,” Louise challenges readers to repeat the affirmation “I approve of myself” at least 300 times-a-day for 30 days. I did it and had great results.
Some benefits you may experience from the affirmation challenge
— Using the self-approval affirmation may help drown out negative thoughts.
— This challenge may help you notice unhelpful thoughts more quickly when they arise so you can redirect your mind before falling into old patterns.
— You may feel more present in the moment...worrying less about the future and fretting less over the past.
— You may find yourself more willing to just do what needs doing...feeling less resistance and more in the flow.
When I did this challenge, most days I repeated the affirmations on my morning walk. Try a barefoot walk, feet on the earth, for added grounding benefits. Another fun way to do these affirmations is while listening to music, creating your own self-approval rap to replace the lyrics.
As always, I love to hear your experiences. Please share in the comments below.
Yours in creativity,
P.S. I have found using a Mala (a prayer bead necklace or bracelet) is a handy way to keep track of my 300+ affirmations each day. We have some beautiful hand made fair trade Malas in the Mind Body Soul Path Shop, along with other tools to support your practice. Find them here.
Watch this painting process for surrendering limiting thoughts and beliefs, and calling in your highest, best self.
I am Larissa Davis, Creatively Fit Coach, and Soul Path Artist. When an unexpected change prompted me to seek the deeper meaning in my life, I began the journey to find my passion and purpose. It began with a pledge not to make any major decisions or changes until I was listening to the voice within. After several months, I had a dream that told me to use painting to heal myself and envision my future. I began sketching that day and immediately experienced the power of creativity to still my mind. Further exploration led me to the discovery of intentional creativity, and certification as a Creatively Fit Coach. Now, I passionately share this process I call Soul Path Art with other souls ready to discover their deepest inner wisdom, quiet the inner critic, release old stories, break through barriers, and live their dreams.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on affirmations, SNL, the 90s, painting, and your own healing journey. Thanks for sharing.